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About Associate's Degrees

Associate’s degrees are two-year programs typically awarded by community colleges, vocational and technical schools, as well as by many universities across the United States. In order to earn an associate’s degree, a student must successfully complete 60 hours of college credit in a variety of subjects. These consist of general education classes such as language and mathematics, core classes required for a college major like computer science or history, and various non-essential electives. There are three types of associate degrees:

  • Associate of Arts (AA)
  • Associate of Science (AS)
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

The main differences between the three kinds of associate’s degrees are the course requirements. An AS and AA focuses more on academic requirements and general education courses meant to lead into a bachelor’s degree at a four year university. An AAS has more “applied” course requirements and are generally more focused on a specific career or vocational field than continuing education.

Why Choose an Associate’s Degree?

Although associate’s degrees are not as specialized or focused as four-year bachelors degrees, they can provide a valuable overview, as well as an accurate feel for whether or not pursuing further education is right for someone. An associate’s degree is also sufficient for work in some fields, while others do require additional schooling. While lawyers, doctors, and teachers’ typically complete years of additional education, computer programmers, nurses, and automotive technicians may be qualified with only a few years of study.

Many states have accredited community colleges and career schools that provide students with this type of short-term post-secondary education. Make sure you know the requirements of the career you want to pursue when choosing the right associate’s degree program for you. This way, you can prioritize your time, and maximize both your financial and educational investments to the fullest.

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